Over the weekend, Cuban President Raul Castro opened the communist island's first party conference in 14 years by proposing limits that would bar leaders from serving more than two five-year terms. The news came on the 50th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion by CIA-trained Cuban exiles. Castro said his plan would "guarantee the systematic rejuvenation" of a government that he, his brother Fidel Castro, and their cronies have run for more than half a century. Raul Castro also announced severe belt-tightening — including laying off 1.5 million public employees over three years — to bring the country back from "the edge of the abyss." Will this finally give Cuba a new start?
This is a welcome sign of change: Castro's term limit idea "should be good news for the Cuban people," says Matthew Yglesias in ThinkProgress. Apparently he's steering Cuba "in a more Chinese direction," economically and politically. If the old revolutionaries can pull this off, Cuba will move "away from personal dictatorship and toward greater economic freedom."
"Change Cubans can believe in"
Don't let Castro fool you: The Castros will say anything to ease the frustrations of young Cubans, says exile Manuel Martinez, as quoted by Miami New Times. But nothing will change. Black Cubans will "still be left without representation, the big shots will remain in charge, the poverty will continue, and the dictatorship will go on."
"Miami's hardcore Castro foes won't be watching party congress"
This is a tall order — even for a Castro: Raul wants Cuba's Congress to figure out "how to create a more open, efficient order in Cuba that the Castros and communists can still control," says Tim Padgett in TIME. But really, can Cuba's brand of socialism "be salvaged, let alone perfected, if rescuing the economy means ditching collectivist dogma" and handing out pink slips to a huge chunk of the country's population of 11 million?
"Party time in Havana: Cuba's Bay of Pigs generation hopes to get it right"